Women’s wrestling club builds grit

By TomM August 6, 2017 21:55

Women’s wrestling club builds grit

Women’s wrestling club builds grit

Phoebe Mogharei | Special to Hometown News lp | Posted: Sunday, August 6, 2017 5:00 pm

There was a time when fight clubs were “no girls allowed.” Those days are over.

Welcome to the Women’s Club at Damage Inc. Fight Club. It is requested by girls, for girls and getting stronger by the minute.
The Women’s Club is a regular meeting of girls and women who learn, practice and compete in wrestling. It, like its counterpart and predecessor The Club, meets regularly at Damage Inc. Fight Club in downtown Lodi.

When Damage Inc. started three years ago, the wrestling club was open to both boys and girls who met and practiced together. However, after a girls state wrestling competition, coach Corey Hamre noticed the girls had become a “tight-knit group.”
At the state tournament, the wrestlers scoped out the interest of competitors from the surrounding area and then pitched the idea of a separate club for girls to Hamre.

The separate practices made sense logistically because men and women compete in different styles. College men compete in folkstyle, while college women compete freestyle.

But the women’s club also serves as a place for bonding, support and growth. With the Women’s Club, girls no longer have to feel like a rarity in a boy’s sport. Instead they can feel like wrestlers surrounded by their teammates.
“It just makes them feel like they fit in instead of feeling like an outcast,” coach Jesse Von Behren said. “When they come to Damage they all feel like they belong.”
“We’ve got that like total family bond going,” wrestler Raven McCumber agreed.
McCumber, a 2017 Poynette High School graduate, is planning to attend the University of Great Falls in Montana on a wrestling scholarship. When she heard about the club, she was immediately interested. She said she feels the love now that she is a part of the team.
“It’s like [the coaches are] your actual parents,” McCumber said. “The love that they give comes off on the wrestlers and we show that love to each other. And it comes off on who we become and, as we grow up, on our identity and who we are.”
“Growing up with a wrestling background has made me not ashamed of my body,” McCumber added. “I have a lot of body confidence and I’m not ashamed of my weight.”
The organization consists of third grade girls up to college-age women. The older wrestlers serve as role models and sources of support for the younger girls.
One example of this support from successful older wrestlers is found in coach Jesse Von Behren. She was one of the first female wrestlers Hamre coached. With Hamre’s support, Von Behren won a scholarship to Wayland Baptist University in Texas to wrestle for their women’s team.
After becoming an all-American athlete on their team and graduating with a degree in molecular biology, she returned home to become a coach for the next generation of female wrestlers at Damage Inc.

Hamre, Von Behren, Gary “Quack” Quackenbush, Todd Stephenson and Diku Nuredini all coach club members among other clubs. They all seek to keep prices as affordable as possible for anyone who wants to join.

“It’s about your legacy,” Nathan “The Darkness” Gindt said, who owns Damage Inc. and runs the martial arts practices at the club. “People like me, Corey, Todd, Jesse, Quack; we’ll be remembered not only as people who showed people how to wrestle or how to kickbox, but we taught them how to be good people.”
The coaches push their wrestlers to be the best they can be on and off the mat. Wrestlers engage in goal-setting exercises as well. The coaches also highlight wrestling as a route to college scholarships, as was the case for McCumber and Von Behren.
“It’s easier for me to get a girl a college scholarship than for me to get a boy a college scholarship,” Hamre said.
He said this was due to the relatively low numbers of female wrestlers looking to compete at a college level and he’s confident about the chances for the girls he coaches.

“We can get most of our girls on the podium at nationals, and as long as they keep their grades up, we can get them a scholarship,” Hamre said. “I’ve been saying since 2009 that one of my life goals is to have a female MMA or kickboxing champion out of this gym,” Gindt said.
Nationwide, the popularity of women’s wrestling is rising. College-level women’s wrestling teams are not yet ubiquitous, but more and more are being added each year, according to Hamre. But despite the rise in popularity, female wrestlers still receive backlash.
“There’s always the naysayers who don’t think girls should be wrestling,” Hamre said. “Even more old timers who think girls shouldn’t be wrestling with boys. I disagree with all that.”

This is only a portion of the article from the Lodi Enterprise, read more HERE


By TomM August 6, 2017 21:55
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